Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Idaho Falls Drive-in Theaters for Sale

Idaho Falls' Skj-Vu Drive-In is closed for the season, and its owners are looking to sell both it and the Motor-Vu.
Idaho Falls’ two drive-in movie theaters, the Sky-Vu and the Motor-Vu, are for sale.

The company offering the properties, Desert Crest Corp., actually has two deals in the works. One is for the 9.1 acres surrounding the Sky-Vu. Being near the Snake River between Pancheri Drive and Sunnyside Road, one can assume that this land is potentially primo real estate.

Desert Crest is also offering for sale the two theaters. So if you’ve ever thought about running an “Ozoner” -- the term Variety came up with to describe the drive-in after the first one opened in 1933 -- here is your chance. The number is 360-5701.

Anyone who has been to a drive-in knows it’s as much about the experience as it is about the movie. I have two distinct memories from my childhood: Watching Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller in some feature whose name escapes me (I know, I know, how could I?) in my pajamas with my best bud at the time, Mike Kelly, and our moms. And seeing “True Grit” (the first one, with John Wayne and Glen Campbell) with my father in 1969.

There were a lot more drive-ins then than there are now. In 1958, the United States had close to 4,000 drive-in movie theaters, said Jennifer Sherer Janisch, who operates the Web site www.drive-ins.com. Today, that number is less than 400.

Two things brought about their demise in the ’70s and ’80s -- rising land values and the advent of VCRs, DVDs and the Internet. That trend slowed down in the ’90s, and although she recognizes drive-ins will never be the mass market phenomenon they were in the Eisenhower era, Sherer said she’s hopeful about the future.

“In the last several years we've seen drive-in expansion, drive-in re-openings, and even brand new drive-ins,” she said. “Aside from the unique atmosphere and the fact that it's so affordable, people want good, clean fun, and drive-ins have it."

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